Minakshi Menon

Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow (Jan 2022-Jun 2022)


Minakshi Menon studied medieval Indian history at Jawaharlal Nehru University and the University of Delhi, and then took her PhD in History of Science and Science Studies at the University of California San Diego. She has held two postdoctoral fellowships, the first in Department II (Lorraine Daston) of the MPIWG and the second at the Berlin Center for the History of Knowledge and Humboldt University. She is currently engaged in completing a book manuscript titled “Empiricism’s Empire: Natural-Knowledge Making, State-Making and Governance in East India Company India, 1784–1830.” She is also the editor of a special issue of South Asian History and Culture on “Indigenous Knowledges and Colonial Sciences in South Asia,” which will appear in 2020. She co-chairs the Forum for the History of Science in Asia, a special interest group of the History of Science Society.

Minakshi’s research project, “Hortus Indicus Malabaricus: the Eurasian Life of a Seventeenth-Century 'European' Botanical Classic,” studies the plant descriptions and illustrations in the 12-volume Hortus Malabaricus (published 1678-1693), in order to understand the natural knowledge-making practices of Dutch colonists, Brahman and Ezhava physicians, and other groups, in the Malayalam-speaking parts of southwest India.


Recent Publications

  • “Transferrable Surveys: Natural History from the Hebrides to South India,” Journal of Scottish Historical Studies 38 (1), 2018, pp. 143–159.

  • “Grains of Paradise and Reading Against the Grain: Telling Stories About Science in the Global South,” in Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 66 (2017), pp. 83-86.

  • “Medicine, Money and the Making of the East India Company State: William Roxburgh in Madras, c. 1790” in Histories of Medicine and Healing in the Indian Ocean World (eds. Anna Elizabeth Winterbottom and Facil Tesfaye), Palgrave Macmillan, 2015, pp. 151–178.


Hortus Indicus Malabaricus: The Eurasian Life of a Seventeenth-Century European Botanical Classic.


Hortus Indicus Malabaricus: The Eurasian Life of a Seventeenth-Century “European” Botanical Classic


Making Useful Knowledge: British Naturalists in Colonial India, 1784–1820


Upcoming Events

Past Events


Science in a "Minor Language"


Machine Translation Before and After the Iron Curtain


Chasing Science on the Move: Translation, Domestication, Transformation


Of Lexical Shells and Textual Monstrosities: Tales of Translation in Late Imperial China


Tensions between Variability of Ancient Texts and Normativity of Databases: Case Studies


From Clay to Modern Editions: the Metamorphoses of Numbers

Premodern Conversations Series

Sanskrit, Plants, and Paper: Botanical Knowledge Making in East India Company Bengal, c. 1790


Presentations, Talks, & Teaching Activities


Open Discussion: Decolonizing the History of Science in Asia

HSS/SHOT 2020 Program

Joint Roundtable: Revisiting Master Narratives

HSS/SHOT 2020 Program
Decolonizing Botanical Collections by Creating an Alternative Archive: The Hortus Malabaricus (1678–1693) in Kerala Today

University of Applied Sciences, Berlin: Politics of Collecting and Knowledge Production

Eurocentrism in the History of Science

University of Warwick: Therapeutics in Circulation: Materia Medica and the (Early) Modern World

Commentary: Science and its Local Readers in British India

History of Science Society Annual Meeting, Utrecht University

Henry Thomas Colebrooke, the Amarakośa, and Botanical Knowledge Making in Colonial India, c. 1800

SPHERE, CNRS & Université Paris Diderot: H. T. Colebrooke et les historiographies des sciences en Sanscrit

What is Indian Spikenard?

Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi: Therapeutic Commodities—Trade, Transmission, and the Material Culture of Global Medicine, 1600–2000

What is Colonial Science?

History of Science Society Annual Meeting, Toronto: Roundtable "Rethinking Histories of Science and Medicine: Beyond Eurocentrism and Postcolonialism"

Transferrable Surveys: Natural History from the Hebrides to South India, c. 1800”, Workshop: Global natural history around 1800: collections, media, actors

Lichtenberg-Kolleg, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen

Surveying the State: Francis Buchanan’s A Journey from Madras through the countries of Mysore, Canara, and Malabar (1807)

Eighteenth Century Scottish Studies Society, Annual Meeting

Natural Knowledge and the Making of Madras, c. 1680-1790 (with Anna Elizabeth Winterbottom)

International Conference: The European Impact on the Indian Ocean World, Indian Ocean World Centre, McGill University

Medicine, Money and the Making of the East India Company State, c. 1790: William Roxburgh at Madras

International Conference: Histories of Medicine in the Indian Ocean World, Indian Ocean World Center, McGill University

News & Press

Summer 2018 Lecture Series in the “History of Knowledge” Announced